Smells, Odours and Spills

Smells, odours and spills can occur anywhere, at any time and for a variety of reasons. They can be inside your home, out on your property or within the city.

What is a Spill?

A spill is any unusual, unexpected or uncontrolled release of a liquid, solid or gas. If you find a spill please contact Environmental Services at 403-342-8750 and we’ll send out a service crew to investigate. Please note the exact location.

What do I do if I find /discover a spill or a smell that makes me feel unwell?

  • Phone: 800-222-6514 (Alberta Environment Spill Hotline)
  • Phone: 403-391-9698 (City of Red Deer Source Control)

Above all else, please keep safe until help arrives and remove yourself from the area.

Spills, smells and odours can occur anywhere, at any time and for a variety of reasons. They can be inside your home, out on your property or even out in the city of Red Deer. Depending on what you see and smell, this will indicate the issue(s) and what you can do about it.

My neighbour stores oil in open containers at the back of their yard shouldn’t something be done?

Storage of oil, paint, solvents and other environmentally harmful products should not be stored outside especially in open containers. Residents are responsible for any spills over which they have control and as per the City Bylaw, we may impose a fine. The resident will be responsible to clean up the spill to our standards or if we determine the resident does not have the adequate resources to do it themselves, we will clean it up and charge the costs back to the resident. It is best to prevent spills from happening.

Because The City of Red Deer cannot accept used motor oil at the Waste Management Facility, residents can take used motor oil to the following locations:

  • Canadian Tire - fees will apply
  • Walmart (North and South locations) - free of charge
  • Also visit www.usedoilrecyclingab.com for more information on oil recycling in your area.
My neighbour’s vehicle always drips oil onto the street where they park, should something be done?

Residents are responsible for any spills over which they have control and as per the City Bylaw, we may impose a fine. The resident will be responsible to clean up the spill to our standards or if we determine the resident does not have the adequate resources to do it themselves, we will clean it up and charge the costs back to the resident. If you have an area of concern, please contact Environmental Services at 403-342-8750.

I was involved in a motor vehicle accident and now I’m being charged for spill cleanup, why?

When vehicle accidents happen, many times there are fluids that pour or leak from the vehicles. These spills are hazardous to the environment and we must keep these products from entering the storm system and ultimately to our waterways. We clean up, or may assist in the clean-up with EMS, of the spilled materials and charge the costs of cleanup to the party or parties responsible for the accident. This invoice will show up after billing information is gathered on responsible parties which may take a few months after the accident.

I noticed my neighbour putting something down a catch basin. Is this normal?

No. This is not normal and is against the City’s Bylaw and depending on the circumstances, can come with a hefty fine. Nothing but storm water is permitted in the catch basins. These catch basins are direct connections to The Red Deer River and receive no treatment. Anything other than storm water entering them can cause blockages during storm events or pollute the river or creeks.

Inside Your Home

Sometimes it smells in my basement or when I flush the toilet, why?

Your basement will usually have a floor drain located by the hot water tank. This drain is attached to your sanitary service which ties into the City’s sanitary main. Attached to this drain is a safety feature called a ‘p-trap’ or ‘goose neck’. You can see a similar feature under your kitchen sink. If the water in this line dries out as it can from little to no use, sewer gas can enter your home. It smells like sewage or rotten eggs and is usually just a nuisance. Just pour a few cups of water down the drain to resolve the issue. You can’t overfill it as any excess water just enters your sanitary service. You may need to do this every few months. If that doesn’t stop the odours from occurring, you may need to contact a plumber.

When I turn on the water in the morning, it smells at the sink, why?

This can happen for generally one of two reasons.

  1. If it is during spring melt, this is the time of year notorious for odours in the drinking water. The water is still safe to drink so just run the water for a short while and the smell should clear up. Although there is a smell it is usually is not offensive.
  2. It could be due to your plumbing. It’s called ‘galvanic corrosion’ and occurs when two dissimilar metals are used in your plumbing (for example, copper and cast iron). This usually occurs more in older homes. Corrosion does take place but usually at a very slow rate and sometimes with an odour present. Just run your water for a short while and the smell should disappear.

Outside your home

I was out for a walk and smelled a rotten egg smell. What is that and is it dangerous?

This could be hydrogen sulfide gas (H2S) and is usually just a nuisance smell but can be dangerous in higher concentrations. Remove yourself from the area, note your location and immediately contact Environmental Services at 403-342-8750 and provide the location.

This could also be natural gas (NG) and can present an extreme danger the longer it leaks. Contact ATCO Gas immediately.